The Rundown- October ’16

frindleFrindle by Andrew Clements (new read)

This is another book I had never heard of before this list. I am somewhat familiar with the author though.

Nick Allen loves to, as the back blurb of the book says “liven things up” at school. It may be in the form of a prank, or it may just be his epic ability to lead teachers on a tangent. However, his fifth grade teacher is a no-nonsense kind of woman, so he has to think especially hard to figure out what to do. He finally decides on creating a new word, frindle, and embarks on a quest to spread it to his fellow classmates. Did I mention his new teacher loves the dictionary? His plan soon escapes his reach though and we see the ramifications.

I enjoyed this book a good bit, and flew through rather quickly. I think there’s some good messages in it about perseverance and believing in yourself. It also shows the powerful relationship that can occur between a teacher and a student, in many different ways.

I would say this book skews toward the younger end of the list and I’m not sure kids would want to read it much past elementary school.

VERDICT: I don’t really think that this book should be on the best 100 young adult book list. It’s a good book, but I just don’t think it packs the punch of some of the other titles.

**Click HERE to see Ashley’s take on this book!**

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo (new read) 510g3ts61jl-_sx334_bo1204203200_

I can say one thing for Kate DiCamillo: she is a very imaginative storyteller. I was eager to read this after enjoying her other entry on the list, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. However, I found that this shared much more in common with her first book, Because of Winn Dixie.

Rob and his father live at a Florida motel after Rob’s mother passes away from cancer. His father forbids him to ever talk about her or even mention her name. In addition to that, Rob has a skin condition that draws unwanted attention from others and he is forced to stay home from school. Needless to say, he doesn’t really have any friends, until one day he meets a girl named Sistine. That also happens to be the same day he discovers a caged tiger in the woods behind the hotel. Coincidence?

What a strange little book. The imagery DiCamillo conjures is breathtaking, but odd. I was certainly invested in the characters and what was going to happen to them. It stirred up lots of emotions, both good and bad. The best part of this story though, for me, comes from the title of the book. I can’t really tell much without spoiling some of the story, but it’s parallel to some advice that Rob is given in the book that is just beautiful!

VERDICT: This one is a toss-up for me. I certainly liked it, and I would encourage others to read it. I just don’t know if it screams “best of.” Why don’t you give it a try and let me know what you think?

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (new read)

51zcs5bmbyl-_sy344_bo1204203200_I gotta say, I wasn’t looking forward to this one when I found out it was a graphic novel. After reading it though, my outlook completely changed!

This book tells three different stories: the first is of Jin, the only Chinese American student at his school before another boy from Taiwan moves there and tries to befriend him. The second story is about Danny, an All American boy whose Chinese cousin comes to visit and effectively destroys his life. The third tale is about the Monkey King, who has mastered many disciplines and wants to take his rightly place with the highly immortal. All three characters feel isolated for different reasons, and must reach out for help to get out of their situations. The three stories intertwine beautifully at the end.

The themes of stereotypes and isolation are woven throughout. In each story, we see how the characters are treated and perceived based on their heritage. It brings to light unpleasant truths in a palatable manner. This selection is certainly for the older end of young adults, but I think it’s more likely to reach people in this format. It was so easy to read!

VERDICT: The Asian point of view is sorely underrepresented on this list and I think this entry effectively shares it. It made this reader think about the portrayals I’ve seen and how they’ve shaped my opinions. I thought this was a great book and definitely agree with its inclusion on the list. I can’t wait to read Yan’s other entry for this challenge!


The Rundown- December ’15

Yes, I know it’s February. This school year has been a little rough, what can I say? I read both of these books during Christmas break and haven’t finished one since 😦

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (new read)

51CAsHD9YfL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_I didn’t really know quite what to expect going into book. We watched Saving Mr. Banks this summer, so I did have some background that the movie painted Mary Poppins in a different light than her original portrayal.

Everyone knows the basic premise of the story: Mary Poppins comes in as the nanny for the Banks children. They go on lively adventures, and along the way, meet all sorts of interesting characters.

The premise is one of the few things that is actually the same in both places. Turns out, Mary Poppins is not actually a very pleasant person. She’s snooty and full of herself most of the time. She has strange acquaintance that are sort of creepy. There’s also three additional kids in the book, including a set of twins! She has supernatural power of some kind that leads her to be called “The Great Exception.”

While different than I expected, it was still enjoyable. I think it transcends age and gender, and provides quite an escape. Such fantasy!

VERDICT: Honestly, the verdict is still out. I think it’s good, but I feel like the movie is more of a classic than the book is. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (new read)

Here’s another fantastical read that was an interesting deviation from the norm.51C67Y0JT3L

The only book I’ve ever read by DiCamillo is Because of Winn Dixie, which is a completely different kind of story, realistically speaking.

Edward Tulane is a china rabbit. We first meet him when he is owned by Abilene, a little girl who loves him dearly. However, he is soon lost. The remaining pages follow Edward’s journey and road to redemption.

One of the most intriguing things about this story is that, while Edward doesn’t talk aloud to any other characters, the reader gets to “read his mind,” so to speak. At all times, we are privy to his thoughts and desires, as if he were a real person. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it was very satisfying… and I may have teared up a little. Don’t judge.

VERDICT: I don’t think I’ve ever done this in the same post, but I can’t decide on this one either! It was a very well written book, and the story was original. I just don’t know if years from now it will be considered one of the best ever. I was actually surprised that one of DiCamillo’s other books, The Tale of Despereaux, was not included instead.

Help me out guys! Have you read either of these? What do you think about their inclusion?